It’s Design Week in NYC! To get into the spirit of things, we sat down with the designers of Brooklyn-based Fort Standard to talk design, process and inspiration. 

Fort Standard take great pleasure in designing furniture, lighting, products and jewelry

Describe your design process. 
Depending on the project the initial concept for a design can come from a variety of places but once the seed is planted our design process is heavily based around conversation. We discuss each project in depth to help understand where the opportunities lie and help orient each other on our individual thoughts and opinions. Once we define the challenges and goals it evolves into conversation about functionality, form and ultimately refinement. 

Had your jewelry line always been part of the plan?
It was never part of the plan as for the first two years we were growing very organically but taking opportunities as they presented themselves or  just doing projects that inspired us. The jewelry line was a result of being inspired by what we could do with the process of casting and wanting to make it accessible in a very sculptural way. It started with large cast Bronze candelabras and brought us to jewelry. Now that we have had a bit of time time to start defining the goals of our studio in more depth we have made the decision to separate the jewelry from our identity as Fort Standard and it will be re-launching as its own brand with some new designs in August under the name Clermont.

How do you apply your design process to jewelry? 
The design process is very similar but the goals were different as jewelry’s main function is to be beautiful and for us that provided a chance to tap into the more sculptural side of things. Our approach however remained very structural and I think thats what makes it unique in the jewelry world.

How do your materials guide design? 
All of our designs were literally sculpted by hand in wax and then cast directly into Brass which creates a very obvious “handmade” feel. Understanding the materiality of wax and learning to work with it took a bit of time but its the waxes inherent material qualities which sort translated directly in the forms we were able to create with it. 

Where do you draw inspiration from? 
Images, nature, conversation, the unexpected or disruptive.

How does collaboration affect your work? 
We each bring different strengths to the table. We have been friends for about nine years now but over the course of working together for two and half years, we have both learned a lot about our own strengths and weaknesses. Its not always easy working so close with someone but it has forced us both to become stronger. If one of us is really passionate about something being one way and not the other, that person is forced to explain themselves…its always an ongoing conversation but fortunately we share a lot of passions, ideas and goals. 

How do you balance innovation with traditional production practices 
The jewelry is actually a pretty good example as we use standard “gating wax” to create our jewelry. This wax is normally used in the casting process to feed the molten metal into a form you would be casting and then snipped off once the casting was complete but in our case, we create the actual forms with this wax. Another example would be the lighting we designed for Roll & Hill as we used steam bent hard wood and water jet Marble which are two materials and processes you wouldn’t generally think to use when designing lights.

You met at Pratt, right? Describe a funny Pratt moment 
We were 2 of 4 students selected to study at the Bauhaus in Weimar for a semester. We became good friends during that course of time and between the bratwursts and the beer id say it was a very formative period in our lives as it opened our eyes to new ways of thinking, drinking and most definitely dancing. Germans take their electronic music very seriously!

-photo courtesy of Fort Standard

By R Smith — April 08, 2015